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Keeping a school running smoothly requires a lot of equipment, supplies, and tools. School inventory management ensures there’s a system in place to oversee those supplies by storing them properly, distributing them, and restocking them when necessary. Without a clear system, you might lose track of your stocked library books, or forget to restock broken chairs in time for the spring rally.
From day-to-day operations to large-scale events, school inventory is necessary to keep your staff and students comfortable and properly equipped for success.
By improving your school inventory management system, either by implementing a new oversight strategy or moving to a software solution, you can save time, cut costs, and improve functionality. With your school inventory management set up to enable complete oversight, your teachers and staff can focus their efforts where they’re needed most.
What is a school inventory management system?
An effective school inventory management system tracks and oversees all of a school’s supplies, including equipment, furniture, devices, etc., to support its students and staff.
School inventory management systems can vary in complexity and method, namely by a manual method or software. Ideally, an inventory management system will enable you to track inventory levels, log storage details and locations, document asset conditions, and generally improve efficiency.
What is tracked with school inventory management?
School inventory might include any of the following items:
- Classroom furniture: chairs, desks, tables, etc.
- School supplies: paper, pencils, art supplies, notebooks, etc.
- Sports equipment: goal posts, balls, bats, etc.
- Materials for clubs or theater performances: set materials, props, costumes, etc.
- Digital devices: tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, projectors, etc.
- Other electronics: monitors, Smartboards, printers, copy machines, etc.
- Custodial supplies: cleaning supplies, light bulbs, paper products, etc.
- Library materials: desktop computers, printers, scanners, electronics carts, etc.
Types of school inventory management systems
There are two different management systems one might use to track school inventory: digital and manual. Manual tracking systems have been the traditional mode of inventory management for some time now, though most institutions have outgrown this method in favor of a system with more oversight– namely software. Below, we outline the key features of each.
Manual school inventory management
With a manual school inventory management method, you’re likely tracking school equipment on a spreadsheet or maybe even a physical piece of paper. Staff, or sometimes students, are responsible for updating the log when inventory changes. This type of management system isn’t seen very often anymore as it can be challenging to manage and keep up with. However, it can be effective in smaller schools with strict oversight and quick follow-through.
School inventory management software
When someone talks about a school inventory management system, chances are they’re referring to a digitized system that manages and monitors assets. In other words, they’re referring to a software solution. There are a few different types of software solutions available; read below to learn more about each.
Some inventory management software solutions focus solely on inventory management. While these are often more affordable options, they are typically limiting and may not sync with other digital systems at your school. Also, they may be specific to inventory needs, but not all software options cater to school districts’ unique needs. Still, the limited offerings can be enticing for the sake of simplicity.
General inventory management solutions
A generalized inventory management software system might offer more bells and whistles than a singular solution system, but it will not be specific to the K-12 market. Depending on the product, those features might include asset management, equipment and asset maintenance, or scheduling features. However, a general inventory management solution isn’t explicitly targeted for schools, so it may not be dialed in on your specific needs.
Specialized school inventory management software solutions
For the most advanced inventory solution, school inventory management software is your best bet. Like other asset management software, school inventory management software often comes as one component of a larger software solution meant to provide various features for school management, like asset tracking, equipment maintenance, and more. As the name suggests, this type of software is built with schools in mind and may offer customized solutions for the K-12 market. For example, FMX’s software also includes a 1-to-1 Asset Manager feature to help schools systemize their 1-to-1 initiative and track the distribution of devices like tablets or Chromebooks, as well as inventory tracking for consumable items.
What are the benefits of school inventory management software?
The school structure has many moving parts and relies on staff and teachers with various responsibilities. One of the key benefits of a successful school inventory management system is its ability to unify school processes to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness. Keep in mind, many inventory management software systems work in tandem with school asset management and other features, so crossover between these feature capabilities is likely.
The benefits of school inventory management software include the following:
- Improved inter-departmental efficiency: Software solutions can enable you to categorize school supplies and assets, label their location, and grant access to specific staff and teachers in charge. Teachers can easily manage classroom supply inventory, the librarian can track stocked printer supplies, and so forth.
- Unified inventory tracking: Storing inventory information in inventory management software makes usage data visible so staff can optimize purchasing and keep necessary inventory stocked to reduce delays and costs.
- Accurate recordkeeping: Comprehensive software solutions keep information under one umbrella and enable staff to monitor the inventory relevant to their department and create accurate supply requests, making recordkeeping easier and more accessible. Digital documentation makes it easier to access stock information and purchase order receipts from any desktop or mobile device.
- Prevent losses: An effective inventory management system can help prevent accidental losses with clear location documentation and inventory logs with information about pricing and quantities in previous orders. And QR code scanning can make tracing and logging inventory information even easier.
- Support purchase planning: Full disclosure of school inventory usage can not only help you stick to current budgets, but it can also provide valuable insight to help improve spending and cut costs in future months. Identify trends in inventory consumption to anticipate needs and avoid rush orders and delayed work order resolutions.
- Vendor management: Proficient inventory management software also includes features for the management of vendor orders and purchases, so you can manage contact information and make purchases directly when you need more inventory.
6 best practices for school inventory management
If you’re ready to switch to an inventory management software system for your school, or if you’re switching to a more modernized system, follow these tips to ease the transition and improve your effectiveness.
1. Categorize your inventories
Outline your school’s process before you begin and determine how you’ll categorize different types of inventory assets. Use configurable fields to label each item and assign details to make it easier to locate.
2. Integrate with other school software
Most schools use several different programs to keep things organized. For a holistic approach, integrate your new school inventory management software with your other programs to take advantage of all available tools.
3. Audit inventory regularly
Update your inventory regularly and perform periodic inventory audits to ensure everything is accurately represented in your systems. With the use of QR codes and mobile applications, this can be a quick and painless process.
4. Use inventory/asset scanning
Make the most of your school inventory management software capabilities with QR codes assigned to individual assets or supplies by type. Use simple scans to look up inventory documentation, including location, type, purchase date, and more.
5. Track purchases and orders
Use inventory logs to document purchases and track shipments for easy access and thorough documentation. This information can help support capital planning and other expenditures.
6. Take advantage of reports and insights
The more you upload to your school inventory management software, the more accurate your reporting data will be. Spot trends and apply these insights to your future planning.
Why choose FMX inventory management software?
With FMX’s inventory and supply management software, you’ll get more than a comprehensive inventory management solution; you’ll enjoy the user-friendly approach of a system designed specifically for K-12 schools.
Brandon Chabola, a Facility Director at Girard School District and FMX customer, says:
The equipment and inventory modules are easy to use and allow us to find what we are looking for. We can track equipment and the costs of parts used. If I had to do it all over again, I’d still choose FMX.
Use FMX to create, assign, and approve configurable supply requests, scan inventory labels to add, remove, transfer, or request additional asset quantities, and send purchase orders directly to suppliers. Plus, take advantage of convenient features such as low stock alerts, incoming shipment notifications, custom inventory alerts, and quickly reference stored supplier information.
FMX’s inventory management software supports school maintenance by enabling custodial and maintenance teams to track, purchase, and oversee their supplies so they always have what they need on hand and can track usage trends over time for future planning.